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The Songs of Bilitis
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The Songs of Bilitis

3.98 of 5 stars 3.98  ·  rating details  ·  81 ratings  ·  11 reviews
Classic of erotic literature (1894), celebrating lesbian love, translation of original edition, complete with 161 sensuous illustrations by Willi Pogany.
Paperback, 192 pages
Published June 1st 1988 by Dover Publications (first published 1894)
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The Prisoner of Zenda by Anthony HopeArms and the Man by George Bernard ShawPudd'nhead Wilson by Mark TwainThe Jungle Book by Rudyard KiplingThe Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle
Best Books of 1894
7th out of 8 books — 4 voters
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar WildeDracula by Bram StokerThe Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar WildeThe Time Machine by H.G. WellsThe Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle
Best Books of the Decade: 1890s
101st out of 164 books — 85 voters

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In 1894 the young decadent writer Pierre Louÿs published what was claimed to a translation of a series of prose poems by Bilitis, a hitherto unknown Greek woman poet of the 6th century BC, a woman who not only lived at the same time as the great Sappho, but was actually known to her. These poems tell Bilitis’s life story, including her lesbian love affairs and her career as a courtesan in Cyprus. In fact Bilitis never existed, and Louÿs wrote the poems himself. This in no way lessens their liter ...more
These poems are spare yet rich, and beautiful in a way that any mature individual could enjoy (nevermind that Louÿs claimed to have merely translated these "newly discovered" Ancient Greek poems, which instead read curiously not unlike a Victorian Frenchman's imitation of Sappho)..
I came across these when studying a late and rarely played Debussy composition, the Six Épigraphes Antiques, each of which were inspired by one of the poems and are partially included at the beginning of each piece (i

Pierre Louÿs was a nineteenth century French author known for lesbian and classical themes in his writing. His short work The Songs of Bilitis includes both of these themes. It is a sensual collection of prose poems that were originally published as translations from the ancient Greek. Louÿs alleged that Bilitis was an actual lesbian poetess from Sapphic antiquity. But this was a hoax; Bilitis and the poems are the creation of Louÿs.

Many of the short prose poems are very beautiful. Some are erot

Straordinaria storia di un falso che rivelatosi rimane una raccolta di poesie d'amore che sembrano proprio scritte da Saffo. Chi non crede al ritorno o ai messaggi che travalicano i tempi e le generazioni si ricrederà . È indispensabile abbandonarsi sulla lettura senza pregiudizi . Certo i tempi nei quali questa opera è stata scritta si intravvedono tutti. Ma chi ha dimestichezza con l'amore saprà perdonare che solo oggi ha avuto l'occasione di leggere questo libro ingiustamente dimenticato.
Alex Sarll
A book seemingly designed to tick all the reading list boxes in Keith TotP's 'Pretentious Title TBC' - a dead French poet pretending to be an even deader ancient Greek lesbian(ish) poet. He even got away with it for a while, and when he was busted, nobody much minded. You can see why - he captures something of that same oblique, crystalline melancholy as Bilitis' supposed contemporary and acquaintance ('acquaintance'), Sappho. And while from our distance we can also taste the distinct tang of th ...more
♥ Ibrahim ♥
The book reminds me of the Song of Songs in the Bible as far as its erotic touches are but this time with a Greek Sapphic flavor. It is still way too mild and I guess it is good for a young girl in her adolescent years. Not too bad but one just have to be in the mood for such poetic works marked by dreamy, girly style.
You could read that book online via:
This is some serious decadent and mythical word-porn. Naiads and dryads and flowery herbal stuff and heartbroken courtesans and tombs and whatnot. Do it.
Not sure what to think. Another man writing about a woman's sexual feelings. Not sure her life was so erotically wonderful. Some lovely passages, but as a complete work not very effective in this day and age.
What a read. It's history is so interesting, but no matter whom may have written these menageries, they are simply beautiful. A array of subject matter- in pearls-that open the soul.
i lack nothing
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“I left the bed as she had left it, unmade and rumpled, coverlets awry, so that her body's print might rest still warm beside my own.

Until the next day I did not go to bathe, I wore no clothes and did not dress my hair, for fear I might erase some sweet caress.

That morning I did not eat, nor yet at dusk, and put no rouge nor powder on my lips, so that her kiss might cling a little longer.

I left the shutters closed, and did not open the door, for fear the memory of the night before might vanish with the wind.”
“When he came back, I hid my face within my hands. He said: "Fear nothing. Who has seen our kiss? --Who saw us? The night and the moon."

"And the stars and the first flush of dawn. The moon has seen its visage in the lake, and told it to the water 'neath the willows. The water told it to the rower's oar.

"And the oar has told it to the boat, and the boat has passed the secret to the fisher. Alas! alas! if that were only all! But the fisher told the secret to a woman.

"The fisher told the secret to a woman: my father and my mother and my sisters, and all of Hellas now shall know the tale.”
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